1 September 2012 20:48
Manchester City shakily coughed up a lead before pulling clear of QPR for a 3-1 Premier League win at the Etihad Stadium.
Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez scored second-half goals as City secured victory, but once again the defending champions were temporarily pegged back, and the points weren’t secure until a fortunate goal in injury time.
Yaya Toure gave City a first-half lead in what was a one-sided contest, finishing from the centre of the penalty area after an unfortunate deflection had diverted the ball into his path.
Not for the first time this year, however, the home crowd was stunned by less illustrious visitors when Bobby Zamora converted from point blank range after some good work from Andy Johnson.
It took City less than two minutes to restore their advantage as Dzeko headed home Tevez’s cross before Tevez’s knee deflected an off-target Dzeko strike into the back of the net to seal the win for City.
Corners looked City’s most likely route to goal in the early stages, with Dzeko missing the target with one attempt and seeing another cleared off the line.
QPR sat extremely deep in their own half and, in bizarre fashion, their best chance of the opening 15 minutes did not come courtesy of one of their own players. Jack Rodwell had Joe Hart scrambling after an attempted tackle in the middle of the pitch almost saw the ball deflect into Hart’s net.
Eventually, the set-plays paid off. When Tevez attempted to return Silva’s deep corner to the centre of the box, a deflection took the ball into the path of Yaya Toure, who swept a shot home with his left boot from 10 yards.
Robert Green may find himself quickly ousted as QPR’s first-choice goalkeeper when Julio Cesar becomes available to Mark Hughes but if not for an excellent save from the England international, David Silva would have doubled the lead after wriggling through a number of defenders and stabbing the ball towards goal from close range.
Silva had another chance when he raced on to Aleksandr Kolarov’s fine through pass but Fabio chased back quickly to block the Spaniard’s shot.
Matters did not immediately improve for QPR after the break. Superb play between Silva and Pablo Zabaleta saw the right-back overlap his winger to run on to a delicate through ball that he curled on to the crossbar with his weaker left-foot from a tight angle.
Once again, though, the defensive shortcomings and carelessness that City have suffered from this season surfaced. QPR equalised with near enough their first chance of the entire encounter when Johnson robbed Silva of possession and forced an excellent save from Hart, leaving Zamora to tap in the rebound.
This time, unlike against Southampton two weeks earlier, they recovered by scoring the next goal. Tevez latched onto a pass down the left-hand side of the penalty area and fired a head-high cross that Dzeko nodded in from a yard out to score the 200th league goal of Mancini’s 100 match-long reign.
QPR might have made it a less than impressive six goals conceded in City’s past three games when substitute Nedum Onuoha headed a corner back across the penalty area but Ryan Nelsen skewed a volley well wide.
Indeed, Hughes’ team enjoyed by far their best spell of the match in the closing stages as City backed off into their own half, but could not carve out the last chance they needed to steal a point.
And Tevez added a gloss to the result after the visitors’ attacks had petered out by diverting a wild Dzeko shot past Green.